There’s a time to hold on to what’s dear to you, and there’s a time to adapt. do both with homemade cooking.
One day. This simple, six-letter phrase has come to mean so much in my life. From being something I occasionally said without thinking, my every utterance of “one day” began to stick out like a sore thumb after someone pointed it out to me as a phrase I tend to say. As often happens when one suddenly notices her own unconscious habits, I started to notice which situations inspired it. As it turned out, my ‘one days’ had a theme.
Most of the time, ‘one day’ represents the things I never get around to doing. Things I claim I’ll do one day, things I promise I’ll cook one day and plans I have for improving my life—one day. They are the challenges, goals, breaking of bad habits and necessary, but irrationally feared to-dos of life that are all too easy to shelve for—you guessed it—one day.
Realizing that I say it has made me evaluate the things about which I say it, and my consensus is that I should probably do most of these things today, rather than that mythical one day. But there’s a yang to this yin. A completed ‘one day’ can bring about a feeling that I previously thought I could only feel “one day.” It’s the feeling you get when you reach a day you’ve specifically imagined yourself in, and noted that you’d imagined what it would feel like.
For instance, when I was 14, I went to Disneyworld for the first time. In the weeks leading up to it, I was so unbearably excited that I would calm myself by imagining the morning of departure, when I would finally be on my way and free from the frustrations of waiting. On that day, I would calmly look back on all the waiting and know it was over. I often imagine how I’ll feel when I’m older and more experienced with something, especially when I yearn to be past it. I envy the serenity my future self will feel from being wiser and able to look back on the experience. These ‘one days’ creep up on me in the form of epiphanies, realizations that I’ve passed another milestone in life that I had once specifically hoped to look back from.
On that day, I would calmly look back on all the waiting and know it was over.
I’m experiencing this brighter variety of ‘one day’ now. Three years ago, I had very little experience seeing something I’ve written published; yet, it’s always been my desire to be a writer ‘one day.’ I submitted an article to this magazine in the hopes that another published article to add to the resume would inspire me to practice writing more often. Luckily for me, the editors of this magazine rejected that piece for the boring generalization about cooking in China that it was and asked me instead to turn my interest in writing about the topic into a series of smaller, more specific articles. I did that, and Home Made was born. Three years later, this month marks my 36th article, and my last.
Because of the chance they gave me, I’ve been able to see my name printed next to my own published writing every single month for three years, giving a constant source of inspiration rather than a single instance. And, now that I look back, as my older and wiser self, I realize that being a writer isn’t even about writing a novel, getting published or even having a following. It’s a mindset. A writer is a writer if he chooses to be one and actively does the only thing that can define his status: writes. And, when I needed to learn this most, the editors of HERE! provided a way for me to do this, by giving me a regular audience and outlet for sharing.
I’m moving on now, to explore new genres, audiences and platforms, as well as pass this page space on to a new voice. But, it’s not without reflection that I close this chapter in my life, and it is certainly with gratitude that I do so. Thank you to my fellow writers at the magazine, for giving me such insight into life in Dongguan, which has been especially needed since I’ve never lived there. Thank you to the owner and editor, Ziv, for taking a chance on an unknown contributor from out of town. And, thank you to Steve, who has, in various capacities throughout the entirety of my unforgettable five years in China, been a great colleague, neighbor, manager, editor and friend.
For this last recipe, I’m ticking off another ‘one day.’ I’ve promised to make a favorite pie for someone important to me for a few years now, and it seems fitting to dedicate my final Home Made recipe to finally getting around to it. After all, Dan, you’ve read every single article, listened to all the complaints about writer’s block along the way, and given me half of my ideas.
Key Lime Pie
• 1.5 cups/155g finely ground digestive cookie crumbs
• 45mL/40g granulated sugar (for crust)
• 2 pinches salt
• 100mL/100g unsalted butter, melted
• Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
• 3 large/4small egg yolks
• 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
• 155mL fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
• 175mL heavy whipping cream
• 15-30mL powdered or granulated sugar, to taste
1. Heat oven to 176 degrees Celsius.
2. Mix cookie crumbs, sugar for crust and salt in a bowl. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie dish.
3. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set on a rack to cool, leaving oven on.
4. Beat lime zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes.
5. Add lime juice and whisk until combined. Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 10 minutes, until filling is set but not browned on top. Let cool completely.
6. In a bowl, beat cream and remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over the chilled pie. If time allows, chill another few hours before eating.